Teaching Companion Animal Management: Perspective From a Livestock Nutritionist

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: 12:00 PM
3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)
Jacqueline L. Wahrmund , Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, TX
Abstract Text:

Many students enrolling in animal science programs aspire to attend veterinary school, and find there are few courses in their course catalogs focused on their primary interest, companion animals.  Institutions have recognized this demand, and some have created companion animal management courses to help satisfy students’ wants and needs.  However, few institutions employ animal science professors specializing in companion animals.  At Texas A&M University-Commerce, there are two animal science professors, both of which specialize in beef cattle.  One was tasked with teaching companion animal management, and this abstract outlines the approach utilized to effectively develop and deliver this course.  The course was taught online during the summer with an enrollment of 17.  At the beginning of the course students were asked to identify which species most interested them, other than dogs and cats, and which topics they were most eager to learn.  Species interests included rabbits (n = 5), reptiles (n = 4), fish (n = 3), ferrets (n = 2), chinchillas (n = 1), and birds (n = 1), with one student indicating interest in all species.  Topics of greatest interest included nutrition (n = 12), health (n = 11), anatomy (n = 4), and reproduction (n = 3).  Other topics covered in addition to these included breeds, behavior, training, showing, geriatrics, business management, careers, and managing unwanted animals.  All topics covered were presented with dogs and cats as the primary models.  Other species were presented in specific lectures for that species, and covered basics of nutrition, reproduction, health, and housing.  The textbook Companion Animals: Their Biology, Care, Health, and Management by Campbell and Campbell was used as the primary guide for presentation of information.  Other sources of information were obtained from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club, and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, to name a few.  At the end of the course, students were asked to indicate their favorite and least favorite aspects of the course.  Generally, students enjoyed learning about a wide variety of species, and disliked that the course was offered during a short summer session online, which eliminated possibilities of hands-on learning.  Student course evaluations were unanimously positive.  Instructors teaching management courses outside their species of expertise can employ numerous resources.  Allowing students to provide input regarding topics to be covered can help provide rewarding educational experiences for both students and the instructors.


Companion animals, Teaching, Undergraduate education